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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Feb 14, 2013 12:28pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Best of 1977

Showing some love for my favorite Dead year on this Valentine's Day. It's more than a little difficult to do a top 10 list for this spectacular year, mostly because of the unfair month of May, which is just a murderer's row of pristine, beautifully-played, nearly flawless shows. But I've done my best to be tough and choose just the best of the best, with one caveat: I do NOT include 10/29/77 on this list because I don't feel it's just the best show of '77, but of all time. If anyone cares to hear why, here's my thoughts:

http://archive.org/details/gd1977-10-29.sbd.miller.92085.sbeok.flac16

As for the rest:

1) 3/20/77 Highlights include a simply best-ever ROW JIMMY, a stunning stand-alone SCARLET to end set 1 that leaves Jerry going insane-solo at the end, and a TERRAPIN encore.
http://archive.org/details/gd77-03-20.sbd.kempa.257.sbefixed.shnf

2) 4/23/77 This is a really interesting show in that it plays more like a raucous 1978 affair or at least a Fall '77 than the mellower precision shows of the month that follows. Check out Jerry growling during SCARLET and the ferocity of the crowd response during an amazing FRANKLIN'S TOWER, and a killer GDTRFB.
http://archive.org/details/gd1977-04-23.mtx.seamons.97596.sbeok.flac16

3)5/4/77 The glory of May begins here. Another great SCARLET>FIRE w/Bobby teasing China Cat, and a magnificent TERRAPIN>PITB>COMES A TIME>PITB
http://archive.org/details/gd1977-05-04.sbd.miller.91970.sbeok.flac16

4) 5/9/77 I expect and maybe even deserve some criticism for leaving out Boston Garden and Cornell, but of these 3 Buffalo beats 'em and there are too many other great ones later on to put 5/7 and 5/8 in the top 10. What can be said about this show and its Top 3 all time HELP>SLIP>FRANK, its possibly best-ever COMES A TIME, certainly best-ever SHIP OF FOOLS and a seriously underrated BIG RIVER. Everything in this show shines.
http://archive.org/details/gd77-05-09.sbd.connor.8304.sbeok.shnf

5) 5/13/77 So overlooked. My favorite SCARLET>FIRE of '77, a massive SAMSON and a beautiful BERTHA are just a few highlights.
http://archive.org/details/gd77-05-13.sbd.miller.9393.sbeok.shnf

6) 5/18/77 Other than 10/29, this has my favorite EYES of the year. The intro alone is worth the price of admission. And anyone who tells you they didn't jam on THE OTHER ONE in '77 like they did back in the day hasn't heard this version.
http://archive.org/details/gd77-05-18.sbd.murphy.5596.sbeok.shnf

7) 6/9/77 This is the second set of this show: Help On The Way-> Slipknot!-> Franklin's Tower*, Estimated Prophet-> Saint Stephen-> Not Fade Away-> Drums-> Saint Stephen-> Terrapin Station-> Sugar Magnolia. I think we can all just go home now.
*Best-ever candidate

8)11/04/77 Uniquely fast and furious EYES, a nice DUPREES in set 1, a killer IKO>STELLA in set 2 and general awesomeness all around. Also, very possibly the best-ever BROWN EYED WOMEN in set 1.
http://archive.org/details/gd77-11-04.sbd.unknown.2595.sbeok.shnf

9) 11/06/77 I might get some oush-back here but this to me contains the finest, hands-down best-ver version of HALF STEP in a year when you could nominate many (5/7, 5/25 to name just 2)...but you also get a killer MUSIC, a ridiculous TRUCKIN', COLD RAIN & SNOW, A DUPREES better than 2 nights earlier and balls to the wall rock and roll energy, even if there are a few warts starting to show.
http://archive.org/details/gd77-11-06.sbd.nawrocki.283.sbeok.shnf

10) 12/29/77 (DP Vol. 10) Only CHINA>RIDER of '77 and they nail it. Whole 2nd set is on fire. A stunningly hot NFA and so much more.

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Poster: musicphotos77 Date: Feb 14, 2013 4:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Hey now, so glad to hear people sharing my opinion on including 4/23 on this, here's my review that I just wrote of that show - http://archive.org/details/gd77-04-23.sbd.jerugim.1827.sbefail.shnf
I would agree 10/29 is the best all time
My top ten would have to include 2 other shows that I saw that year- 5/7, and 9/3. Since there is no doubt that 5/7 through 5/9 were the best 3 nights in a row ever played, I'd include all 3 of those! The others I'd have to vote for 11/6, 12/29, and 6/9. I think we need to expand this to a 'top 20 list' !!!!!!
check out this photo I took on 5/7/77 during Miss Half Step-
http://archive.org/details/PhotoOfJerryGarcia5.7.77Boston

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Poster: William Tell Date: Feb 14, 2013 2:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Hey GC--I was thinking I was at more of "your" shows...I guess it's some from Oct of 78 that I misremember as being lumped in with those in 77 we've chatted about prior...point being, why so few shows from Winterland?

IE, of your shows, there is only 1 of the 10 that was "home court", and that struck me...is that unexpected?

Dunno.

My personal take is that these 77 shows are relatively homogenuous; thus, I can see that if someone loved the year (ahem), it would actually be easy to pick a number from this time as "all time best", etc., etc. They really were consistent (IMHO)...Why? I think it's because it's prior to the decline of Keith and Jerry, they were really hitting a groove post-hiatus, and then Mickey was fully integrated, blah, blah, blah.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Feb 14, 2013 3:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Can't believe you don't like '77 better having been to many of these shows. What I wouldn't give.....I didn't see my first show til 1979.

whew.

anyway...yeah, the set lists are not exactly wildly diverse, but neither are those from 1972, and that was a hell of a great year. I've always been of the mind that I'd rather see a superbly performed show than one with a "wild" set list played with mediocrity or flat out poorly.

1977 is remarkable for the precision and flow and power of the playing. The songs sound clean, with none of the choppiness that so marred much of the 80's, and Jerry's voice was still in pretty good form, unlike the 90's when the band did perform musically well at times but listening to the old man was increasingly difficult.

Think about it: The band members are in their early to mid 30's in 1977. Not too old, but with some experience under their belts. Songs that were "nice" 5 years earlier (Jack Straw, Half Step, Brown Eyed Women, Deal) are now pushed into bigger jams with just as tight execution. There's exciting new material to draw from as well due to the release of Terrapin. 1977 to me is just the Holy Grail.

As for the lack of Winterlands on my list, what can I say? I could easily throw in the whole spring run of 6/7-6/9, and the end of year run up to New Years is just as strong. (As it is, I do have 3 of the 10 on my list from Winterland: 3/20, 6/9 and 12/29).

But May just blows up the whole year. 5/25 is a spectacular show that just slid under my list. 5/17 contains amazing moments and I probably should have included Barton Hall for the DEW alone (altho' the St. Stephen/NFA material is vastly overrated in that show and the first set is perfectly well played without being at all spectacular or better than Boston Garden the night before.)

Ultimately 1977 is about the consistency of greatness in the playing. The closest you'll find to that consistency is, again, 1972...a year I also love. But to me the material from that year is more fleshed out 9at least first set songs are), and I would rather hear 12 minutes of killer jamming on a song like "The Other One" (seriously--check out 5/18/77) than 28 minutes of very good jamming on it interspersed with long passages of atonal feedback or meandering Phil solos, as the song featured in 1972. Just subjective preference I suppose.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Poster: thebone Date: Feb 15, 2013 7:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Love your bold choice of 10/29 as top show of all time. It is a true killer and definitely in my top five of this incredible year. My other four are 5/8, 5/17, 6/4 and 10/2. I also agree 77 is the best year with a slight edge over 73, then followed by 72, 81 and 74.

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Feb 16, 2013 5:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Yeah, I realize it's all subjective too and fans of long Dark Stars or Other Ones from 72 and 74 and such will never agree but in terms of clean, flowing, consistent and powerful playing 77 to me can't be beat, and 10/29 is just such a flawless powerhouse show it gets my #1 of all time.

btw, 6/4 is an extremely bold call of your own! I suspect this show gets overlooked b/c there's no real good sounding SBD, just "meh" AUDs....there's a sweet standalone Franklins in this show late in 2nd set...

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Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Feb 16, 2013 8:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

6/4 is probably my favorite from the year as well. The final medley beats anything else from the year (for me). The transition between Playing In The Band -> Franklin's Tower is one of the best they ever did in terms of being a fluid, full blend of one song into another.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Feb 16, 2013 1:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

That surely is an extraordinary transition which I never noticed when listening to the show,as you said it is a perfect blend.I can't say I find any thing other than the Minglewood to be of exceptional quality,and this would be the single instance those words apply.

http://archive.org/details/gd1977-06-04.fob.menke.motb-0096.97183.flac16

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Poster: thebone Date: Feb 16, 2013 8:04am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Totally agree with your views. The jam suites of the 72-74 era are unparalleled. However, one thing about 77 that I'm not sure always gets appreciated fully is that a number of songs long heavy in the Dead's rotation reached their pinnacle during this year. I am thinking of songs like NFA, or maybe the best example is Sugaree. The latter went from 6:30 or so in the early 70s, and pretty perfunctory at that, to the high teens in 77 (e.g., 5/28, 10/16) with long, great jams between each verse.

BTW, I am a fellow fan of 4/16/78 that is an incredible show!

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Feb 16, 2013 1:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Sugaree is an excellent example of a song that got the "extra" treatment in '77 w/out losing any of the prime execution.

Add to that songs like Jack Straw, Deal, Loser, Ramble on Rose, Half Step, Stella (anything from Wake of the Flood, actually)....i.e. there are some fine Row Jimmys from 73, and 74 and even 76, but none of them comes close to 3/20/77, or 5/3/77, 5/8/77, etc.

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Poster: thebone Date: Feb 16, 2013 6:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Yes, the Half Steps, among the others you cited, are so well played in 77. That is one of their very best songs in my opinion--great lyrics/chorus, and amazing instrumentation with that long jam at the end. 77 truly was an incredible year of touring, and I always enjoy discussion threads about this topic. Thanks for kicking it off!

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Feb 14, 2013 1:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

09-03-1977 oversight? top 3 77 show for me...

not having Cornell will cause some angina...

I would find space for 10-02, but other than that, good list...

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Feb 14, 2013 3:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Yeah, 9/3 might in fact HAVE to be there. The EYES is pretty spectacular, although I'm not as enamored of the loooooong NFA as most are. Great first set as well. If you twisted my arm maybe I'd sub out 11/6 for 9/3.

Maybe ;-)

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Feb 14, 2013 4:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

9-3 is just too good, all the first set tunes are top shelf versions, including top 3 versions of TLEO, Mississippi Half-Step Toodleloo, Peggy-O and Music...second set has that Eyes, which is just as good as 10-29 and 11-05...big jams ...11-06 is just too damn sloppy for my top 10, although I would keep the Half Step and Truckin'...02-26 should et a mention as one of the better debut heavy shows, with a nice Deal and Eyes...

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Poster: Pig Street ! Date: Feb 14, 2013 4:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

I was at Englishtown Show and the long NFA was grate, a rusty Truckin was played but understandably cause it had been since 74'. Can't find abetter Half Step, Peggy-o and of course EYES. Top 77 for sure.

Attachment: et006.jpg
Attachment: et002.jpg
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Poster: Capt. Cook Date: Feb 15, 2013 5:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

I remember being like 11 and living in Old Bridge, not too far down the road from Englishtown ( the site of a great and sprawling flea market on the weekends) Me and my buddies road our Schwinn bikes through the throng of masses that morning, watching groups of people park four, five miles from the site, carrying coolers of beer and all sorts of lawn implements and whatnot, and wondering "who the hell are these people?" Enterprising homeowners made bank selling their front yards as parking spots. A warm sultry day, with thousands in sandels and cutoffs, cops on horseback and mostly freaks partying in the largest parking lot in Jersey history. A lot of folks just left their cars in the road... I never thought I would get on the bus just 4 years later.

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Feb 14, 2013 5:59pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPJOmkDOFcQ

some great shots from the show in this video that accompanies that classic Peggy-O...

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Poster: Pig Street ! Date: Feb 15, 2013 5:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

thnx Strat, I want to say that was The Newark Evening Newspaper or NY Times, either one, my friends and I were up near the front for most part of the show. Thnx for the clip, the angelic Peggy-o coming down the stairs was beautiful.

Attachment: 77c52-30.jpeg

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Feb 16, 2013 8:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

one instance where the Dead came through big time and didn't shit their pants ala Woodstock, instead they rocked...I believe this stands as their biggest crowd for a headlining gig...Woodstock and Watkins Glen 73 the 2 overall biggest audiences...they are remarkably tight for not having been onstage since 06-09 Winterland...love this show, my Dicks Picks copy gets a lot of play...today we can all appreciate a Terrapin encore, however at the show it must have been a cool but curious choice, some folks were still warming up to some of the new stuff I'm sure...

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Poster: billydlions Date: Feb 14, 2013 2:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Best of 1977

Wow, my top 10 list looks a lot different from yours, but I guess that's what makes 1977 so good! Anyway, in no particular order:

4/23, 5/7, 5/8, 5/22, 5/25, 6/9, 10/11, 10/29, 10/30, 12/29.

I've always thought 5/9 was the weakest of the big 3.